Brad Keller has made a habit of escaping impossible jams. In tonight’s game, he allowed only a single run, a solo home run to White Sox left-fielder Nicky Delmonico, in five innings. Keller struck out five and walked none. But he did give seven hits, which required him to escape a first-and-third with no outs jam in the fourth inning and a second-and-third with two outs jam in the fifth inning. He didn’t allow a run to score either time.
This has quickly become a modus operandi for Keller. He regularly allows significantly more base-runners than innings even when he doesn’t give up very many runs. Based on that record of performance and tonight’s outing I hereby propose that Brad Keller be nicknamed “Harry” or “Houdini” after the legendary escape artist. If you don’t like that one I’m open to other suggestions and I am sure the Royals Review commentariat can provide.
As for the rest of the game, Royals left-fielder Alex Gordon tied the game in the sixth inning with his own solo shot. It was only the second hit Dylan Covey had allowed but after that things fell apart for him. He got a ground-out from Salvador Perez but then Lucas Duda yanked a double down the right-field line and Jorge Bonifacio picked on a 3-2 fastball to rope it into left field. Duda was sent home on the play and any sort of reasonably good throw probably would have gotten him but the ball was too far off-line and Duda managed to touch the back of the plate to give the Royals the lead.
Brian Flynn, Kevin McCarthy, and Tim Hill each provided 2/3 of an inning of scoreless relief before Ned called upon Brandon Maurer to protect a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth. You could hear the collective butt-clench of Royals fans from anywhere in the continental United States. Maurer gave up a lead-off double to Jose Abreu and the collective groans of Royals fans became audible across the US and Canada. Maurer then blew away Daniel Palka with a high, 96.7 MPH fastball. Then he unleashed sliders to fan Avisail Garcia and Delmonico. It was an awe-inspiring performance to add to the evidence that sticking with him - and other young Royals - through their struggles this season (and probably the next couple, at least) is a really, really good idea for the future of the franchise.
Alcides Escobar tacked on an insurance run in the top of ninth with an RBI-single that scored Jorge Bonifacio. Wily Peralta pitched a perfect ninth inning to collect his eighth save. That means the notoriously leaky Royals’ bullpen put together four scoreless innings to help Keller earn the win. The Royals will look to take the series, tomorrow, when Heath Fillmyer faces off against Reynaldo Lopez.